Off the Autoroute – A Fresh Look at France

A Personal French travel memoir

Complimenting my series of French Travel Books

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY :

Paris is the most atmospheric of cities. The sights, the people, the restaurants and cafes are evocative of memorable travel and times past. This is a small selection of my photography taken over several visits and rendered in black and white. Please enjoy these and my books on Paris and France are available on Amazon.

From Normandy down through Burgundy to Provence and heading back North through Languedoc to Brittany

Take a full Tour de France – experience the country, culture and people and always stopping for lunch

Alt="Off the Autoroute non-fiction Travel Memoir n Kindle Unlimited"
Coming Soon – My NEW French Memoir – NOW ON AMAZON
  1. – Read some chapters
    1. Starting in Normandy – First Impressions
    2. To Follow
Alt="Photo of village of St Amour France"
St Amour – a beautiful place in the Beaujolais region of France


From the Monthly travel magazine SNAPSHOT! August 2022 Edition by best selling author, artist, and publisher Alyson Sheldrake
Off the Autoroute by Neal Atherton – Neal Atherton lives and breathes France and French culture, and in this, his fifth book about his travels with his family around France, he leads us on a circuitous tour of the country. Using some of the stories and tales from previous books alongside fresh adventures, this is an interesting summary of their 25 years of French travel. If you want to know the best wine to drink, the prettiest routes to drive, and the must-see villages and towns off the beaten track, this is the book for you. Neal has an unpretentious, down-to-earth style of writing and it is nice to read a book by someone that started their travels much later in life, allowing for a gentle introspection and a fresh pair of eyes cast over a well-travelled land.

Mont St Michel from our lunch table

Introduction to Le Tour

Once more I want to inspire you to travel – to France. I have been delighted at the lovely responses I have received to my books and have enjoyed supplying more precise suggestions to some of you personally. This book ties together our journeys in France as a cohesive tour de France.
Most of this book comprises of fresh writing but to make the tour flow I have included relevant excerpts from my four book French Travel Series. If you are unfamiliar with those books, I hope you will go on to enjoy the full story of our experiences in French regions such as Provence, Languedoc, of course Paris, and our wine touring amongst the French vineyards throughout the country. Paris I do not include in this book as I have treated that marvellous city as needing a book of its own.
If you are familiar with my French travel book series, you will be aware that I began to travel abroad somewhat later in life than most of my contemporaries. My initial forays abroad were to the south of France by coach, staying at an exceptionally fine coastal campsite near Perpignan. It would be about five years later before I had the courage to strike out under my own steam. For that first excursion into the unknown, we chose Normandy. I imply that I accomplished this extraordinary feat of making my own way to France all by myself but that is not strictly true. I had help. I used the expertise of a travel firm that specialized in hotel and travel arrangements for Normandy. They very efficiently did most of the planning for me. It would be another couple of years before I started to be more adventurous and ambitious in my travels, able to do all the planning work myself. This is something that I have really enjoyed over the years. Initially, I still wanted someone to hold my hand. All I had to do on this first trip was to get some French francs and drive the car in the right direction at the appropriate time, which was easier said than done.
This book is a compilation of stories and memories from our twenty-five years of touring France. I take you on a more or less clockwise tour of the country and it is a trip that can be reproduced over a two-week period – or just be an inspiration to savour one or two areas for a couple of weeks. Provence for instance repays a longer stay. In fact it is difficult to take your leave after a couple of weeks. It is by no means an exhaustive tour and I have areas I still wish to explore for the first time or to return to discover much more.
It is a country and people that have never disappointed, and we begin our tour in Normandy, just driving off the Cherbourg ferry.

 Please use the LOOK INSIDE feature

I will inspire you to find the most amazing places & people yourself in this wonderful land

For me it has been the most remarkable ride for an initially very reluctant traveller – Come with me           

Alt="Colourful roof in Aloxe Corton Burgundy FRance"
Colourful roof in Aloxe Corton Burgundy France
Alt="Chenonceaux chateau in the French Loire Valley"
Chateau of Chenonceaux Loire Valley France
Alt="Picture of Collioure Harbour and church for French travel guide books"
The beautiful harbour looking across to the Church Collioure France
Alt="French travel book series and Collioure harbour photo"
My French Travel Book series and New book Off the Autoroute

Praise for ‘First Time we saw Paris’

“This is the first book by this author I have read and I’ll be sure to read his other travel books. I loved his unbounded enthusiasm for travel and finding the joy in experiencing a new culture and a new language. Embarking on a coach tour to a holiday camp near Perpignan in southern France, this is the first time the Atherton family have ever been out of England and their first impressions are not all that inviting. However, the author’s love of history, new experiences, willingness to try new foods and wines and great people observation soon make this a holiday that will change the family’s lives and keep them returning to France year after year into the future. Above all, it is their encounter with a French café owner that changes their potentially calamitous holiday into one where long term friendships are made. This is a lovely memoir full of exuberance and humorous personal comment and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about travel stories that contain something of everything.”

Val on Amazon

 Unbounded enthusiasm for travel

Reviewed in the United States on 1 September 2020 Verified Purchase

%d bloggers like this: